Parents' views of including young boys in the Swedish national school-based HPV vaccination programme: a qualitative study.BMJ Open. 2017 02 28; 7(2):e014255.BO
To explore parents' views of extending the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to also include boys.
Explorative qualitative design using individual, face-to-face, interviews and inductive thematic analysis.
11 strategically chosen municipalities in central Sweden.
Parents (n=42) who were offered HPV vaccination for their 11-12 years old daughter in the national school-based vaccination programme.
The key themes were: equality from a public health perspective and perception of risk for disease. Parents expressed low knowledge and awareness about the health benefits of male HPV vaccination, and they perceived low risk for boys to get HPV. Some parents could not see any reason for vaccinating boys. However, many parents preferred gender-neutral vaccination, and some of the parents who had not accepted HPV vaccination for their daughter expressed that they would be willing to accept vaccination for their son, if it was offered. It was evident that there was both trust and distrust in authorities' decision to only vaccinate girls. Parents expressed a preference for increased sexual and reproductive health promotion such as more information about condom use. Some parents shared that it was more important to vaccinate girls than boys since they believed girls face a higher risk of deadly diseases associated with HPV, but some also believed girls might be more vulnerable to side effects of the vaccine.
A vaccine offered only to girls may cause parents to be hesitant to vaccinate, while also including boys in the national vaccination programme might improve parents' trust in the vaccine. More information about the health benefits of HPV vaccination for males is necessary to increase HPV vaccination among boys. This may eventually lead to increased HPV vaccine coverage among both girls and boys.